Previously, I explained why I stopped reading Genesis literally. Once I began to understand its purpose I realized that I was free to consider scientists friends rather than enemies. I stopped demonizing them for “attacking Scripture” and began listening to them.
I believe that all truth is God’s truth. That means, if it is true that the Earth is old, then God made it that way. If it is true that evolution is the means by which life was developed, then God made it that way.
Slowly, after carefully considering the evidence as well as its consequences for my faith, I began to accept the evidence for an old Earth. Contrary to the slippery slope in which Ken Ham suggests this belief leads, I am now more confident in Scripture and in my faith than ever before.
Evidence for an old Earth is quite compelling when you don’t feel like you have to find reasons to ignore it. So, let Ken Ham focus on the alleged inaccuracies of radiometric/carbon dating. There are other, more reliable arguments for an old Earth. Ice cores. The distance of the stars. Trees older than the age of the Earth as suggested by Young Earth Creationists. The radio echo from the Big Bang. Varve layers. et cetera, et cetera.
What’s more, the problems that come with a belief in a young Earth and a literal interpretation of Genesis are overwhelming (not to mention entirely unnecessary).
As Bill Nye explained in his debate with Ken Ham, if every animal species in existence came from one original pair of its “kind” after The Flood, then we would need 11 new animal species every day (see here for more info)! As Benjamin Corey puts it, reading Genesis literally not only requires one to believe in evolution, but to believe in “evolution on steroids.”
Moreover, the ice cores excavated in Antarctica reveal around 680,000 seasonal cycles. This means that all for seasons occurred 680,000 times. Assuming that the seasons occur once each year, we could reasonably assume that these layers developed over a period of 680,000 years. However, if the Young Earth Creationists are correct, we would need 110 seasonal cycles every year (even more if these ice layers developed after a worldwide flood, 4,000 years ago)!
Also, the light of stars would have to travel faster than the speed of light to reach us.
Let’s not forget that the Bible doesn’t actually say that the Earth is young. Young Earth Creationists estimate the age of the Earth by simply adding the ages of people in the genealogies in Scripture (which is a significant misuse and misunderstanding of them). Once they came up with that age, they began to look for ways to prove it (or to disprove other conclusions).
Inter-species evolution isn’t as clear to me (only because the science is way over my head), so I’m still weighing the evidence. The skull record. The fossil record. The genetic record (see also question #2 in this link). Etc. Just as we should not blindly accept a literal interpretation of Genesis, neither should we blindly accept scientific claims.
As I said above (and in the last post), my commitment is to the truth, not to a literal interpretation of Gen 1-11. I have no theological conviction to refuse to believe in evolution. If it is the truth, then I want to believe it. If not, then I don’t.
Simple as that.
At this point, however, you may be worried about the theological ramifications of accepting an Old Earth or evolution. That’s exactly where I landed.
Here, the discussion must revert back to the issue of biblical interpretation.
As Ken Ham likes to point out, theistic evolution necessarily implies that there is death before the fall. It also calls into question the Augustinian doctrine of Original Sin. That’s a legitimate issue. One which theistic evolutionists are aware of and have offered several different answers. At this point in my journey, I’m still not sure which answer is the best.
To be honest, I am full of questions and theological problems. The Bible is replete with things that I don’t understand—things that make me want to pull out my hair because it’s difficult to live in the tension. However, I don’t think we should ignore what God’s creation is telling us simply because it adds another theological conundrum to our already massive list. If the Earth is old and if evolution is real, theological challenges don’t give us an excuse to run away from the truth. (Though, I don’t think we should just ignore the theological problem either.)
Fortunately, our salvation isn’t contingent on our belief in a young Earth, an original pair of humans, a talking snake, or a worldwide flood. Our rightness or wrongness on theological, philosophical, or scientific issues is not the key to righteousness before God. Faith is.
Do you know what I’ll say if I find out that I’m wrong about an old Earth?
“Oh, wow…that’s cool!”
Do you know what Ken Ham will say if he finds out he’s wrong about a young Earth?
“Oh, crikey…that’s cool!”
You see, the Bible is inspired—not our interpretation of it. The moment we start holding our interpretation on equal ground with Scripture we become Pharisees.
Your interpretation could be wrong. So could mine.
It wouldn’t hurt us to filter through our beliefs every now and again to make sure we believe the truth and not a lie (or a misunderstanding of the truth).
We should be willing to consider the possibility that we are wrong—something Ken Ham unfortunately refuses to do because he considers a literal interpretation of Genesis (which isn’t even the view of the historical church) to be foundational to his faith.
If your faith would crumble into pieces should an old Earth or evolution be proven true, isn’t that a problem?
Our faith is founded upon the resurrected Christ. Not the age of the Earth or the interpretation of Scripture.
We should be able to hold our interpretations with an open hand recognize that changing our interpretation doesn’t mean losing our faith.
“A Pastor’s Perspective on the Ultra-Literal Perspective”